Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Big Gains for Big Energy on Stock Market

This rig uses hydraulic fracturing to obtain gas from Texas' Barnett Shale formation. Photo by KUT News.

It’s been a booming year for drilling in Texas, with more new wells drilled than last year and 381 million barrels of oil produced. The companies behind this drilling have found fortune not only in the ground but also in the stock market. USA Today looks at the top ten corporate stocks for the year and finds that several are energy companies based in Texas. While stocks overall had a rough year (the paper notes that the Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down 0.6% for the year), the market was very good to companies that frack for oil and gas.

Taking the top spot for the year is Cabot Oil & Gas, a natural gas drilling company headquartered in Houston with a heavy fracking presence in the Eagle Ford shale in Texas as well as the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania. Their stock more than doubled this year, going from $38.46 to $76.41.

Coming in second is El Paso Corporation, also based in Houston, which saw its stock start at $13.75 at the beginning of the year and end at $26.20, an increase of 90.41 percent. El Paso owns the country’s largest natural gas pipeline.

The dark cloud hanging over all of this? Natural gas prices are nearing a 27-month low as production booms. And this winter is expected to be warmer, which means lower demand for natural gas to heat homes in colder states. An open question is how low that price can go before natural gas drilling loses its profit edge.

Curious about what other companies made the top ten stocks for 2011? Read the full list at USA Today.


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